Residents fear bank, pharmacy could cause Calverton traffic glut

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Developer Paul Elliot discusses his building plans with Calverton civics Thursday night.
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Developer Paul Elliot discusses his building plans with Calverton civics Thursday night.

Calverton residents voiced concern over plans to build a bank and pharmacy on Edwards Avenue during a meeting of the Greater Calverton Civic Association Thursday night.

The building proposal comes from a group headed by developer Paul Elliot and the owner of Miller Environmental Group, Jim Miller, who also built the gas station next to the Riverhead Charter School on Route 25 in Calverton. The developers, who filed under the name 1998 Peconic LLC, are seeking a use variance from the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals because neither a bank nor a pharmacy is permitted under the site’s Industrial C zoning.

They discussed the project at a Feb. 24 ZBA hearing, and the ZBA has yet to rule on the issue.

The plans call for a 13,852-square-foot pharmacy and a 4,092-square-foot bank on the vacant 3.29-acre lot directly south of the shuttered Village Crossroads restaurant on Edwards Avenue. The entrance on Edwards Avenue would be about 500 feet south of the intersection with Route 25.

The pharmacy would not be open 24 hours, as was incorrectly stated at the ZBA meeting.

The two main points of concern raised by some residents who spoke at the civic association meeting were traffic and the fact that the proposal is not permitted by zoning.

“It looks lovely but it’s going against the master plan, which gets me angry,” Kathy Lindstrom said.

Her husband, Hal, reminded the town’s comprehensive master plan was designed to keep retail on major roads like Route 25 or Route 58.

“Once you start getting off those roads, what’s to prevent other uses from coming in that are not permitted in that zoning?”

Ms. Lindstrom also pointed out that the Edwards Avenue/Route 25 intersection was given a grade of F by the state Department of Transportion in terms of traffic flow.

But Mr. Elliott stressed, as he had at the ZBA hearing, that the bank and pharmacy are less intensive uses than those permitted in the Industrial C zone, and that in the past, they have proposed uses that are permitted by the zoning — including a lumberyard and propane storage facility — and those met with opposition.

Chris Tartaglia, an engineer for the applicant, said that banks and pharmacies are not uses that people usually go to as their primary destination, meaning that this traffic would be on the road already, heading somewhere else, and then stopping at the bank or pharmacy along the way.

He said no one is going to come from far away to go to the bank or pharmacy because there would likely be banks and pharmacies near their homes.

Resident Robin Gibbs said pharmacies in Riverhead Town, such as the CVS pharmacies in Wading River and Riverhead, do draw a lot of traffic.

But Mr. Tartaglia said there is a demand for another bank and pharmacy.

“We have tenants interested who are going to invest a lot of money to put a bank and pharmacy here,” he said.

At the ZBA hearing, he said those are the only uses seeking to locate on the property because the property isn’t big enough for many of the permitted uses.

The project also will generate about $120,000 in tax revenue, Mr. Elliott said.

He told a reporter after the meeting that he had expected a mixed reaction to the proposal, but said such feedback is necessarily to be good neighbors.

What is developing as a sort of hamlet center at the intersection already includes a school, post office and the vacant restaurant.

The applicants would not identify potential tenants because no deals have been signed, they said.

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